The norms of life that prevailed for over three decades due to the environment of violence in Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing a definitive change. Hands that had got used to carry guns and stones and the hearts that prided in how much and how far one can throw these stones, are changing for good. The youth are seeing a ray of hope in the horizons of the Union Territory. They can be seen migrating towards education, sports, upskilling and innovations.
The change is not cosmetic, it is real and widespread. The previous year, 2020, The attitude of elders too has very clearly transformed. Whether it is the discourse within the four walls of houses, during social get togethers or community interactions, elders can be found preaching youth to carve a niche in a career of their choice and get out of old circles that gravitated them to violence or caused ill feelings in their hearts.
The youth themselves have stopped participating in the negative activities and seem to be motivated to exploit any opportunity of training, building capacities or employment. They want to showcase the capacities or talents that they possess. They are less afraid of those who preached or forced them to practice violence and come out openly to take part in competitions or talents hunts that are being organized by different organisations. While talking to the young boys and girls, one can easily get the sense that there is a newly born drive among them to be recognized for their talent can be felt their talent at national as well as international level.
The government of Union Territory, duly supported by the Central Govt has started opening the avenues for multinational companies, NGOs and experts to come in and invest their goodness, funds and technologies for the benefit of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. With many hands coming together, it will be possible to achieve a turn around sooner than what one can believe.
In the beginning of this year, I happened to see an advertisement for a talent hunt in the field of music and singing. I sensed a lot of difference from what was happening earlier. Firstly, it was being organized by Mausiqui Studios which is part of the AR Rehman’s venture and it had sent Dilshad Sheikh to personally supervise the auditions and selection. He was to himself do the judging alongwith some other prominent personalities from Mumbai and well as Jammu and Kashmir. Northern Command of Indian Army was supporting the venture and Army was out in open to fund, coordinate and participate actively in the execution of the related events. Thirdly, initial auditions were carried out from Mumbai in the online mode wherein thousands of youth Jammu as well as Kashmir region participated. Second level auditions took place at Jammu and Srinagar in a very professional manner. Participants got the feel of Indian Idol types arrangements and aura. Participation level was so high that Kashmir auditions had to carry on till 11 PM on 11 Jan. Moreover, the competition was so stiff that four judges had to spend entire day on 12 Jan to decide on the ten winners. These ten winners, were groomed by Dilshad Sheikh for three days before they were to put up a show on 18 Jan. Fourthly, Jammu Kashmir Band that was formed comprising five talents from Jammu and five from Kashmir, put up a show in front of Manoj Sinha, the LG of Jammu and Kashmir, sharing the stage with famous singer Sukhwinder Singh. Their performance was no less than a professional band of standard that can be seen anywhere in the world. Akshay Asthana, the Production Manager of Mausiqui Studios shared his feelings about the quality of the talent and said “the band members will be taken to Mumbai under arrangements of Mausiqui Studios and put through a workshop under leading music directors and prepared as professionals. Along with prize money of five lacs to band, they have been awarded with three years of contract for performing.”
Fifthly, Army, though has been proactively contributing to the cause of people in general and youth in particular, it has been undertaking such activities with invisible support to organisations such as Lehar Foundation but never came out to openly and directly support such initiatives. It is perhaps due to the spirits of youth to move forward in life that such an effort has been made. If such collaborations wherein youth are taken to the ultimate gains such as becoming stars are taken up in future as well, the environment of peace is sure to sustain. It has been seen in past that talents are identified, promises are made and forgotten. Hope this venture is taken to conclusive levels and these ten budding stars are made into real stars. They are sure to come back to the UT and do the same to others, setting into motion, a cycle of good that the UT has been waiting for three decades.